SpaceX has launched a veteran Falcon 9 rocket on its third trip to space on June 6 to carry a massive radio satellite into orbit for Sirius XM before returning to Earth.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket, which previously launched the Crew-1 and Crew-2 commercial crew missions for NASA, landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean eight minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff.
The satellite will use its own propulsion system over the next several weeks to reach the required circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator.
The 15,400-pound SXM-8 spacecraft features a large dish-shaped mesh antenna designed to relay programming to mobile radios across North America.
The satellite has a design life of 15 years.
SiriusXM originally planned to replace two older satellites, XM-3 and XM-4 — nicknamed Rhythm and Blues respectively – with SXM-7, launched last December, and the identical SXM-8 launched on June 6.
SXM-8 is owned and operated by SiriusXM as a part of their high-power broadcasting satellite constellation. The company ordered SXM-8 alongside its twin, SXM-7, in July 2016 to be built by Space System/Loral (SSL), now Maxar Technologies. The two satellites are based on the Maxar 1300 satellite bus.